Empty handed once again
Another year, another chili cook-off in Rifle. And as was the case last year, The Citizen Telegram / Post Independent team went home empty handed. We’re still recovering from the stinging embarrassment, and to add insult to injury, the smack-talking member of our team (yeah, that guy) got smoked in the jalapeño eating contest. I don’t think he even placed in the top five. We’re told he has already started training for next year — there is always next year.
In all seriousness, I feel comfortable speaking for our entire team by saying we had a blast at this year’s cook-off.
But before going on, acknowledgments are needed (especially considering the lazy bum who edits this publication contributed the least to the CT / PI effort). Hat-tip to Donna and Lisa in classifieds for executing all the planning and setting up the booth. Lisa also made some bomb elk chili. A shoutout to Amanda on the sales team for making a killer sweet and spicy chili, and a thank you to ad director Brad Howard who contributed a tasty green chili. And, of course, I need to acknowledge Sam, who enthusiastically participated and ran to Wal-Mart an hour before the event so we could dress up like old-school reporters. (I now have a pair of suspenders that I’ll probably never wear again.)
During my 18 months here, the chili cook-off has easily become one of my favorite events. That could be because it’s one of the few events I participate in, rather than cover for the paper, but there is more to it than that.
To start, who doesn’t enjoy eating an endless amount of chili? The most difficult aspect of the whole day is avoiding the temptation to hunker down at one booth and binge on serving after serving of your favorite (yes, I’m talking about you, Colorado River Fire Rescue).
What I really enjoy, though, is seeing hundreds of people out enjoying themselves. When you’re someone who works long hours and doesn’t get out much you can easily start to think of people in a one-dimensional sense. This person is the city councilor. That person owns this business. They advocate for this. They oppose that.
You forget that everyone wears more than just one hat and you lose sight of the fact that at the end of the day we’re all neighbors. It’s a reminder that, I’m sad to say, I need every so often.
Along those lines, I’m interested to hear how this past weekend’s festivities, the inaugural Western Adventure Weekend, went. It certainly seemed like it had the potential to be a fun time with a little something for everyone.
(For the record, this past weekend was the official (at least according to Facebook) anniversary since Sam and I started dating. We opted for an early morning soak at Penny Hot Springs followed by a lazy day reading and napping before dinner at Miner’s Claim. I may petition the WAW organizers to change the date next year.)
According to a couple people I talked with, Saturday was a hit with plenty of people out enjoying the activities. Hopefully this continues and WAW becomes one of those events like the chili cook-off. I’m convinced anyone can create an event with fun activities, but it takes people to make an event in a small community worth going to.
Ryan Hoffman is the editor of The Citizen Telegram. He currently is in training for the 2017 jalapeño eating contest. You can reach him at 970-685-2103 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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